Tag Archives: Agriculture

TSU College of Agriculture Awarded $18 million Grant Award from USDA

By Dr. Alyssa Rockers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Agriculture has been awarded an $18 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA). TSU’s award is a part of USDA NIFA’s NextGen grant program, a $262.5 million investment in higher education to create and sustain a more diverse workforce for the next generation of food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences professionals. Of the 33 awarded projects across 24 states, TSU is only one of five institutions awarded Tier 3 funding. This includes projects up to $20 million and at least three partnering institutions across two states.  

“This is game changer for Tennessee State and further enhances our stellar reputation as a premier land-grant institution, with one of the top Agriculture programs in the country,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

“Our goal as an institution is to provide our students with a quality education that will position them to compete and have successful careers in the global marketplace. This amazing opportunity with USDA will allow us to continue to fulfill that goal due largely to the commitment and vision of Dean Chandra Reddy and Dr. John Ricketts, principal investigator for the grant, and their staff.”

 The program is funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. Dr. Chandra Reddy, TSU’s Dean of Agriculture, and Dr. John Ricketts were on hand for the official announcement in Washington.

“We are quite excited with this announcement today by USDA Secretary Vilsack that the TSU College of Agriculture will be receiving $18 million to cultivate the next generation of agricultural graduates,” said Dean Reddy. “We are one of the select few institutions that received this level of funding recognizing our longtime efforts in this area through many successful initiatives particularly the Dean’s Scholars Program.” 

“I congratulate Dr. Ricketts and the team for putting together a comprehensive proposal and we will deliver on our commitments.”

 TSU’s project entitled, “NEXTGENeration Inclusion Consortium for Building the Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences Pipeline (FANHP)” is led by Ricketts, who is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences at TSU.

“This project will establish an inclusive consortium of institutions to build and sustain the future of the workforce in food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences,” said Ricketts.

“Through this project, TSU and our partners will be able to advance equity in this workforce for future generations.”

Scholarships and learning opportunities are crucial components of the grant. The project will allow TSU students to apply for full scholarships covering tuition, board and other related expenses,  internships, and other learning opportunities to expose them to careers in Agriculture. Dr. De’Etra Young, who oversees all the College of Agriculture’s scholarships, will serve as a co-project director along with Dean Reddy.  

“I am excited to be a part of this historical funding opportunity from USDA,” added Dr. Young, associate dean for the college’s academics and land-grant programs.

 “The Next-Gen grant will allow us to transform our student success portfolio, provide greater access to higher education through scholarships, and strengthen our current experiential learning and study abroad opportunities.” 

Additionally, programs related to FAHNP will be provided to community members to help them gain more information about the career options available to their young people. In addition to TSU, this project is a partnership with faculty from Fort Valley State University, Alcorn State University, the University of Houston, Chief Dull Knife College, Middle Tennessee State University, University of Tennessee – Martin, University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt University, and the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences organization.

TSU faculty involved in this project along with Dr. John C. Ricketts (Principal Investigator), are College of Agriculture Dean, Dr. Chandra Reddy (Co-Project Director), Dr. De’Etra Young, ( Co-Project Director , Dr. Alyssa Rockers, Dr. Brione Lockett, Dr. LaPorchia Davis, Dr. Thomas Broyles, Dr. Yujuan Chen, Dr. M.S. Mahmud, Dr. Pramir Maharjan, Dr. Dilip Nandwani, Dr. Kilonzo-Nthenge, and Dr. Samuel Nahashon.

 For more information about programs sponsored by this grant award, please contact TSU Media Relations at 615.963.5331 or publicrelations@tnstate.edu.

TSU reports over $70 million in research funding, impacts childcare, global food security and more

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Early childcare for Tennessee families and global food security are among the top areas Tennessee State University is focusing on as the University reports continued record growth in research funding. TSU’s external research funding is just over $70.2 million with four months remaining in the 2022-2023 submission cycle. To date, the University’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences and the College of Agriculture have received the largest single awards totaling $28.9 million.

“TSU’s continued high research output and funded awards are a true testament to the hard work and commitment of our faculty and staff, especially as we also focus our attention on moving from an R2 to R1, the highest research designation, under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning,” says TSU President Glenda Glover.

The TSU Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences is using grants to fund childcare and family support programs in Tennessee.

“A crucial cornerstone of an institution’s success is measured through its research and just as important is how that research will benefit our communities.” 

For its work with children and families, the TSU Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences received a total $18,958, 417 in federal and state funding. The Center is using the grants to fund childcare and family support programs in Tennessee.  Of that amount, nearly $5.3 million came from the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start (ACF/OHS) to support Head Start and two Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership programs; and just under $13.7 million came from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (HHS/TDHS) to support the Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance and Tennessee Family Child Care Network. 

President Glenda Glover


The funding will provide services to 256 children and families and employ approximately 115 staff needed across the state. 

“The Center is proud of the work we do to support children, families, and professionals within the early childhood community,” says COELS’ director Dr. Kimberly Smith.  “We remain focused on educating and uplifting the early childhood workforce in Tennessee and we remain committed to improving the lives of the families we serve.”  

In the College of Agriculture, researchers are using a $10 million capacity building grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support 57 different projects in agricultural education, agricultural business, biotechnology, food science, animal science, environmental science, renewable energy, and human health and nutrition. Two of the major projects will conduct research to enhance nutritional security and environmental quality. 

Dr. Chandra Reddy

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the college and principal investigator of the capacity building grant, says the objective is to find solutions to challenges in global food security, enhancing the environmental quality, and nutritional security. 

“The other important goal of these projects is the diverse workforce development,” Reddy says.  “We are creating new knowledge and graduating diverse background students both at undergraduate and graduate levels.  We also share the research findings with public through our statewide extension programs to improve their productivity and quality of life.” 

CheKenna Fletcher is a first-year Ph.D. student in agricultural sciences with a concentration in food and animal sciences. Her research focus is on the extraction, isolation, characterization, and application of novel materials in health-promoting food products. She is ecstatic about the amount of funds the university is attracting for research. 

“TSU provides students and even professors with various opportunities to conduct research in a variety of fields with global interest,” says Fletcher, of Lebanon, Tennessee. “There are so many conferences, symposiums, and more one can attend to present his/her research, worldwide.” 

CheKenna Fletcher

In the first half of this fiscal year, TSU research proposals garnered more than $68.8 million in external sponsored research funding and now stands at $70.2 million, which is on pace to surpass the record $70.7 million received in 2021. That record-setting year for the University was one of the highest among all HBCUs. The new funding report is a major boost for the University in its continued planning to receive the “R1” research designation.  An R1 designation would mean more doctoral programs, research initiatives and funding for students and the university.  

Associate Vice President of Research and Sponsored Programs Dr. Quincy Quick, who is leading the R1 designation effort, says the goal is double the total amount of grants received. He believes TSU faculty and staff can ultimately reach the $140 million award mark.

Dr. Quincy Quick 

“Our recent historic research productivity and achievement over the last two fiscal years is a consequence of our outstanding and dedicated faculty and staff and their commitment to conducting and performing innovative and transformative high-level research,” says Quick. “Our faculty and staff are enthusiastically engaged in our mission for the highest status as we work collegially and diligently to become the fourth R1 designated institution in the state of Tennessee.” 

Here are some of the other top awards received in 2022-23: 

  • Dr. Andrea Tyler – Title III, $10,254,498 (Department of Education) 
  • Dr. Quincy Quick – RSP, $5,000,000 (Department of Energy) 
  • Dr. Karla Addesso – College of Agriculture, $2,479,982 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Melanie Cantu – College of Agriculture, $2,016,694 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Rebecca Selove – RSP, $1,772,784 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Deo Chimba – College of Engineering, $1,611,168 (Dept. of Transportation) 
  • Dr. Margaret Whalen – RSP, $1,255,618 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Roy Sonali – College of Agriculture, $1,158,373 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Jianwei Li, College of Agriculture, $1,118,709 (USDA) 
  • Dr. D’Etra Young – College of Agriculture, $1,000,000 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Robbie Melton – Academic Affairs, $1,000,000 (Apple/Hewlett Packard) 
  • Dr. Catherine Armwood – College of Engineering, $1,000,000 (NSF) 
  • Dr. Dafeng Hui – College of Life & Physical Sciences, $1,000,000 (NSF) 
  • Dr. Lin Li – College of Engineering, $1,000,000 – (NSF) 
  • Dr. Hongwei Si – College of Agriculture, $1,000,000 (USDA/NSF) 
  • Dr. Richard Mu – RSP, $1,000,000 (NSF) 

TSU College of Ag awarded nearly $2 million in grant from National Institute of Food and Agriculture

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced an investment this week of nearly $4 million – $1.9 million of which will be award to TSU’s College of Agriculture.

The NIFA is awarding the college $1,920,000 for a new 1890 Center of Excellence grant, an investment that helps increase rural prosperity and economic sustainability of food systems in underserved farming communities, according to Dr. Dionne Toombs NIFA Acting Director.

Dean and Director of Research/Administrator of Extension Chandra Reddy

TSU is one of two institutions to receive the grant this year, along with Delaware State University.

Dean and Director of Research/Administrator of Extension Chandra Reddy said the funding is a recognition of TSU’s capacity in Environmental Sciences and capabilities in finding solutions to the Climate Change, which is threatening the sustainability of human life on earth. 

“Together with our 1890 partners, we will not only generate smart ways to manage climate change problems but also train minority workforce in this all-important field,” Dr. Reddy said. “This Center of Excellence will strengthen our graduate programs and improve our research and extension capabilities in climate change field.”

The College of Agriculture will collaborate with four other HBCUs – Alabama A&M University, Southern University, Florida A&M University and Langston University, to host the 1890 Center of Excellence for “Natural Resources, Renewable Energy, and the Environment (COE-NREE): A Climate Smart Approach.”

Dr. Reddy will be the Centers director, while Dr. De’Etra Young, Associate Dean for Academics and Land-Grant Programs, and Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Dr. William Sutton, will be the co-directors.

“These grants continue to support projects that address critical needs for developing global food security and defense, enhance academic and career activities for students pursuing careers in food and agricultural sciences, and address vital needs in nutrition and health to improve the quality of life of underserved populations,” Dr. Reedy said.

Dr. Sutton said the 1890 Center of Excellence will begin this month and the term will last 3-5 years following initial approval.

“It feels great to receive approval to move forward with this effort,” Dr. Sutton said, noting how talented the faculty and students are.

“We put in a large amount of work with this effort, and to get the announcement that we received the funding is a huge validation on what we are doing in our Department and the College of Agriculture.

Drs. Reddy, Young, and I are excited to lead this effort.”

This will provide collaborative opportunities among 1890 Institutions to develop management practices that will promote natural resources, explore renewable energy sources, and develop climate smart agricultural production practices to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and improve environmental quality and sustainability, according to NIFA.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

“We are proud to partner with TSU:” Kroger donates $100,000 in scholarship aid to College of Agriculture

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Four Tennessee State University College of Agriculture students will be $25,000 richer in scholarship aid, thanks to Kroger.

President Glenda Glover speaks with Sonya Hostetler, President of Kroger Nashville Division at the check presentation ceremony. (Photo by Janiece Pigg)

The University and the retail giant will establish the Kroger Scholarship and Student Success Fund at TSU in support of first-year students pursuing degrees intending to promote careers in the agricultural and food industry and workforce development.

The grocer is awarding TSU $100,000.

As the donation will introduce TSU students to career opportunities Sonya Hostetler, the grocer’s Nashville Division President, she said looks forward to a future with the University.

“This investment reinforces Kroger’s commitment to build up the communities we serve,” Hostetler said.  “We are proud to partner with TSU to support these students and ultimately, our future workforce.”

Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of agriculture, speaks with Shantavia Webb, Kroger Human Resource Leader. (Photo by Janiece Pigg)

The check presentation took place in the Agriculture Biotechnology building with Kroger executives who joined President Glenda Glover, Dean and Director of Research/Administrator of Extension Chandra Reddy and TSU staff.

President Glover stated that $25,000 to start an education at TSU is a phenomenal investment for the students and the grocer.

“It plants the seed for success for our students,” Glover said. “It’s not what you do for TSU, but what you do for the board of community,” she told the Kroger executives.

During the presentation a Farm Bill scholarship recipient, TSU freshman Dacia Ringo, mentioned how grateful she is for scholarship opportunities as such.

“I know that this scholarship is going to help a lot of people like myself. Without that scholarship I wouldn’t be in school,” Ringo said.

“Thank you to everyone who made this opportunity possible.”

President Glenda Glover shares a moment with TSU freshman Dacia Ringo who is a Farm Bill scholarship recipient. (Photo by Janiece Pigg)

The colleges’ Director of Marketing and Communications Roderick Reed contacted Kroger regarding the funding opportunity and stated that he looks forward to working closely with the grocer to strengthen their relationship with TSU.

Dr. De’Etra Young, Associate Dean for Academics and Land-Grant Programs, said the donation will be beneficial to the lives of four deserving students who are seeking a career in agriculture.

“We receive inquires all the time from students seeking assistance. So this would change the impact for four students that are interested in pursuing agriculture,” Young said.

She stated that the selected students will work closely with faculty, staff and Kroger while receiving mentorship opportunities.

Over the course of 4-years throughout the undergraduate program, four selected scholars will receive up to $25,000 based on their financial needs, totaling in $100,000 in direct scholar’s aid. This is Kroger’s first donation to TSU, Young said, but she has hopes that this will become an annual gesture with additional industry partners.

“I think the college has been doing great, innovative work. So for us to receive initial recognition just confirms the work that we are doing.”

Rodrick Reed, Director of marketing and communications and De’Etra Young, Associate Dean for Academics and Land-Grant Programs De’Etra Young at Kroger check presentation. (Photo by Janiece Pigg)

Young stated that the college has a dean’s scholarship program that supports undergraduate research and internship opportunities, a program that currently has more than 40 students. While the College of Agriculture receives grant awards often, TSUAg obtained 68 competitive grants, totaling in almost $24 million last year. TSUAg was the top external funding award recipient at TSU.

In 2019 the college was awarded $100,000 from SunTrust now Truist fund agriculture education for four students, receiving $25,000 each.

Prior to, TSU was awarded $450,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for food safety research in 2018.

First-year agriculture students will be able to apply for the scholarship in Fall 2022. Eligible students must be selected through an application process that evaluates merit thresholds and relevant majors, according to Dean Chandra Reddy. Continuation of student funding will be subject to satisfactory academic progress in the field of study and any scholarship program restrictions that may apply.

Additionally, scholarship funds may be made available to assist the students with educational support such as tutoring or to ensure academic success.

For more information regarding the upcoming scholarship opportunity, internships,  and or other financial opportunities, contact Dr. De’Etra Young at (615) 963-5123 or email dyoung23@tnstate.edu.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU helps promote new Agricultural Sciences degree in Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has partnered with Motlow State Community College to offer an agriculture degree in Fayetteville.

TSU Ag professor Dr. John Ricketts (left), TSU Ag chair Dr. Samuel Nahashon, and Lisa Smith, assistant dean of the Motlow Fayetteville Campus, outside TSU’s mobile agriscience lab. (TSU Media Relations)

Officials with TSU and MSCC have been talking to media and high school teachers about the “2 + 2” program, which allows students to get a bachelor’s in Agricultural Sciences. There have been two open houses about the program, and an “enrollment event” was held June 12 at the MSCC Fayetteville Campus.

“We’re trying to generate as much buzz in the community as possible,” said Dr. John Ricketts, a professor of agricultural sciences at TSU and a facilitator of the TSU-MSCC Ag program.

Ricketts, along with Dr. Samuel Nahashon, the chair of TSU’s Agricultural Sciences Department, traveled to Fayetteville in the university’s mobile agriscience lab earlier this month.

Under the “2 + 2” Ag program, participants get an associate’s degree at MSCC, then have the option of getting a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences from TSU, which can be conveniently done at MSCC.

“The 2 + 2 program is great because it’s going to allow them to continue to get a four-year degree in the field they love of agriculture, but do it by staying close by in Lincoln County,” said Lisa Smith, assistant dean of the Motlow Fayetteville Campus.

TSU professors will teach in a combination of ways that include traveling to Fayetteville and providing instruction remotely, according to TSU officials.

Ricketts and several TSU administrators spoke to Nashville Public Radio (WPLN) about the program this month.

“We make every effort for the students to see and interact with TSU professors, and to gain the same classroom experience they would if they were on TSU’s main campus,” said Dr. Sharon Peters, executive director of Community College Initiatives in the Division of Academic Affairs at TSU.

The program, which is scheduled to start in the fall, is a continued effort by TSU to help students in rural areas meet the demand for trained professionals in different fields.

“We don’t produce, as a country, enough graduates in agriculture to meet all the needs of the employers,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture. “In the rural parts of Tennessee, there are a lot of people engaged in agriculture. This program provides those people access to a higher education.”

The university currently has a similar program at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee, that leads to a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and criminal justice. A program on Motlow’s main campus in Tullahoma, Tennessee, leads to a degree in criminal justice; and one is planned for the Motlow-McMinnville, Tennessee, campus in 2019 that will offer a degree in engineering, with a focus on megatronics.

“TSU is committed to the growth of 2+2 programs because they represent sustained growth in our transfer student population and outreach to our neighbors in Tennessee’s rural communities,” said Dr. Alisa Mosley, interim vice president of Academic Affairs at TSU.

TSU Ag professor Dr. John Ricketts and TSU Ag chair Dr. Samuel Nahashon discuss program with marketing representative Sarah MacYoung with Fayetteville Public Utilities Channel 6. (TSU Media Relations)

In the case of the most recent TSU-MSCC partnership, the degree completion program will target adults who began college but never finished, and traditional age students with an interest in agriculture that would prefer to study close to home.

“Students will be able to finish a four-year degree program, which is required for lots of the different types of jobs they want to go into,” said Ricketts. “It’s a benefit all the way around.”

Peters said students who have an associate’s degree and continue their education usually have a “high rate of completion.”

“They’ve demonstrated they can make it through two years of post-secondary education,” she said. “They’re focused. A lot of these students end up being some of our high achievers.”

The TSU-MSCC Ag program is awaiting final approval from the TSU Board of Trustees.

For more information about the Ag program, contact Lisa Smith at 931-433-9350 or lsmith@mscc.edu.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU partners with Motlow State Community College to offer baccalaureate degree in agricultural sciences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has partnered with Motlow State Community College to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural sciences in Fayetteville, Tennessee.

TSU officials will be in Fayetteville on Friday, June 1, to promote the program, as well as an open house that will be held June 12 at the MSCC Fayetteville Campus.

Under the “2 + 2” program, participants get an associate’s degree at Motlow, then have the option of getting a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences from TSU, which can be conveniently done at the Motlow campus.

TSU professors will teach in a combination of ways that includes traveling to Fayetteville and providing instruction remotely, according to TSU officials.

“We make every effort for the students to see and interact with TSU professors, and to gain the same classroom experience they would if they were on TSU’s main campus,” said Dr. Sharon Peters, executive director of Community College Initiatives in the Division of Academic Affairs at TSU.

The program is a continued effort by TSU to help students in rural areas meet the demand for trained professionals in different fields.

The university currently has a similar program at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee, that leads to a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and criminal justice. A program on Motlow’s main campus in Tullahoma, Tennessee, leads to a degree in criminal justice; and one is planned for the Motlow-McMinnville, Tennessee, campus in 2019 that will offer a degree in engineering, with a focus on megatronics.

“TSU is committed to the growth of 2+2 programs because they represent sustained growth in our transfer student population and outreach to our neighbors in Tennessee’s rural communities,” said Dr. Alisa Mosley, interim vice president of Academic Affairs at TSU

In the case of the most recent TSU-MSCC partnership, the degree completion program will target adults who began college but never finished, and traditional age students with an interest in agriculture that would prefer to study close to home.

“Students will be able to finish a four-year degree program, which is required for lots of the different types of jobs they want to go into,” said Dr. John Ricketts, a professor of agricultural sciences who will be teaching some courses in the “2 + 2” agriculture program. “It’s a benefit all the way around.”

Peters said students who have an associate’s degree and continue their education usually have a “high rate of completion.”

“They’ve demonstrated they can make it through two years of post-secondary education,” she said. “They’re focused. A lot of these students end up being some of our high achievers.”

For more information about the TSU-MSCC program, contact Lisa Smith at 931-433-9350 or lsmith@mscc.edu.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Expo Highlights TSU’s Growing Agricultural Outreach as Officials Recognize Tennessee’s Top Small Farmers

University Holds Position for “Biggest Extension Network” Among HBCUs 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Highlighting its broad Cooperative Extension program that now touches more 50 counties in the state, Tennessee State University Thursday recognized four individuals as the “top small farmers” in Tennessee. The recognition, which also included the presentation of the “Small Farmer of the Year” award, marked the conclusion of the 2015 Small Farms Expo that brought together more than 400 agricultural experts, farmers, students and officials from across Tennessee and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farmers1
Tennessee 2015 Top Small Farmers are, from left, Steve Malamatos, “Alternative Enterprise”; Ken Drinnon, “Innovative Marketing”; Trent McVay, “Most Improved Small Farm”; and Christopher Mullican, “Best Management Practices.” Ken Drinnon received the “Small Farmer of the Year” award. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“These individuals are the ‘best of the best’ in farming in Tennessee,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, as he presented plaques to Ken Drinnon, a beef cattle producer in Cheatham County, recognized for “innovative marketing; and Trent McVay, a vegetable and cattle grower in Shelby County, recognized for “most improved small farm.”

Also receiving plaques were Steve Malamatos, who owns a poultry processing business in White County. He was recognized for “alternative enterprise,” and Christopher Mullican, a beef cattle producer in Sumner and Davidson Counties, who also runs a non-profit therapeutic service for children and soldiers with disabilities.  He was recognized for “best management practices.”

Drinnon, who owns 82 acres of farm land and leases another 60 acres, where he runs a freezer beef business selling wholesale or retail to local restaurants, received the “Small Farmer of the Year” award.

“It is quite a humbling experience to receive this award,” Drinnon said. “My family and I are very thankful to this university and the state for not only working with farmers but also recognizing our contributions in such a public manner. We try to do the best to do a very good job.”

Candidates for recognition were nominated by either their extension agents, government agents or officials in each honoree’s county.

Reddy1
Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, talks to a reporter minutes before the opening of the Expo. He says that TSU now has the “biggest extension network” of all HBCUs in the nation. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

According to Reddy, the recognitions and awards are an indication of TSU’s expansive outreach across the state in helping small farmers recognize their own potential and hone their skills through research, and introduction to new farming techniques, equipment and production methods.

“This annual Expo, now in its 11th year, is a way for Tennessee State University and our partners on the federal and state levels to recognized the role farmers and agriculture play in the state and the nation,” Reddy told reporters earlier.

As the nation celebrates the 125th anniversary of 1890 Morrill Act that created the second land grant system that include Tennessee State University, Reddy announced that TSU now has the “biggest extension network” of all HBCUs in the nation. He said in seven years TSU’s extension program has grown from 10 counties to more than 50.

“This is quite an achievement that could not have been possible without the support of our TSU leadership under President Glenda Glover, and partners like UT-Knoxville (University of Tennessee), the USDA, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and all of the agencies represented in the state,” Reddy said.

He attributed the success of the Cooperative Extension Program to the workers under the leadership of Dr. Latif Lighari, associate dean for Extension.

“We are grateful to Dr. Lighari for his leadership, and his team for the work they are doing, and for ensuring another successful Expo,” Reddy added.

Natalie
Natalie Owens, Extension Agent and Food and Nutrition Education Program specialist in Shelby County, demonstrates how to prepare nutritious blueberry crumble without artificial ingredients. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

At Thursday’s Expo, visitors, including students, saw exhibits, displays and new discoveries that not only showcased the impact of agriculture and its future in the state, but also the educational potential of the University and the level of research it conducts.

kids
Elementary and middle school students prepare to go on a farm excursion during the Expo. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Organized by the Cooperative Extension program along with several agencies and institutions, the 2015 Small Farms Expo exhibited a biodiesel fuel production unit that farmers can use to turn crops into fuel for their equipment, a greenhouse emission reduction system for field crops, community gardening, meat goat production and genetics, beekeeping demonstration, and 4-H and adult agriculture.

Workshops included organic vegetable production techniques, pesticide handling and safety, food preservation, and soil and plant tissue sampling, among others.

Lighari, who has headed the Expo since its inception, recognized his fellow organizers, the various farm managers and research leaders, small farmers, schools and students for their participation.

“Your input and participation made this event very successful,” Lighari said. “We thank you and especially the small farmers who are the lifeline of what we do.”

Other speakers included TSU Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Mark Hardy; Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs, Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young; State Rep. Harold Love Jr.; Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson; and Dr. Tim Cross, dean of Extension at the University of Tennessee.

Other TSU partners, Expo organizers, agencies and sponsors present were the Tennessee Farm Bureau, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Service Agency, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

State Legislature’s “Ag Day on the Hill” to Feature TSU Agricultural Research, Extension March 24-25

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Dr. Jason de Koff’s Mobile Biodiesel Education Demonstration lab will be on display at the “Ag Day on the Hill” celebration on March 24-25. (courtesy photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences at Tennessee State University will be a prominent player in this year’s “Ag Day on the Hill” celebration Monday, March 24 and Tuesday, March 25.

The celebration at Legislative Plaza, which coincides with what Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has proclaimed “Agriculture Day” in Tennessee, is part of the annual national observance to recognize the important contributions of farmers and forestland owners to the state and nation.

According to a Tennessee Department of Agriculture release, on Monday at 5 p.m., the official start of the celebration, two General Assembly joint resolutions will be presented to honor Dr. George Washington Carver, and the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, which established the Cooperative Extension Service. Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the CAHNS, and other prominent TSU representatives are expected to speak.

Festivities on Tuesday will begin at 8 a.m. with a silent auction, to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and Tennessee’s Ag in the Classroom educational program. This will be followed by the traditional cow-milking contest between the House and the Senate.

Festivities will also include displays and expositions by various agricultural institutions, farmers and other stakeholders from across the state and the nation, the release said.

Several TSU entities, projects and representatives will be on hand to provide educational materials and demonstrations. They include the Otis L. Floyd Research Center in McMinnville, Cooperative Extension, Dr.  Suping Zhou’s Pathogen-free Organic Strawberry project, Dr. Dharma Pitchay’s Hydroponic Production method, and Dr. Jason de Koff’s Mobile Biodiesel Education Demonstration.

The event will also feature for the first time the Drive to Feed the World Tour, a unique, interactive road show traveling the nation to heighten awareness about world hunger and sustainable food production.

Tennessee has 76,000 farms representing 10.8 million acres in production. More than half of the state, 14 million acres, is in mostly privately owned hardwood forests. Tennessee’s top agricultural commodities include cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, cotton, timber, greenhouse and nursery products, dairy products, wheat, tobacco and hay. The industry has a $66 billion a year impact on the state’s economy and supports nearly 337,900 jobs.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.